What Boston can learn from Brooklyn about revitalizing a waterfront

A walk along the East River in Brooklyn, New York is like no other stroll along the waterfront.

Sure, there are the obligatory benches and paved paths that open up to breathtaking vistas of the Manhattan skyline.

But for 1.3 miles along the river’s edge, visitors experience playgrounds, soccer fields, basketball courts, an outdoor roller rink, a pop-up swimming pool, cafes, barbecue pits, beaches, and performance spaces. And just when you think it can’t get any better, you spy a hand-painted carousel that spins under the Brooklyn Bridge.

Now this is how you develop a waterfront.

Brooklyn Bridge Park is a six-year-old public space that Jim Canales, president of the Barr Foundation in Boston, has hailed as a model.

Turns out a bunch of Bostonians who are shaping our own harbor’s edge have also checked out the 85-acre park.

After visiting the space last week, I couldn’t help but think about Boston’s Seaport District, with its ho-hum towers, and ask:

Did we just blow it?

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